1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nigeria is endowed with a long coastline of about 960km, a large area of inshore waters, and a vast inland system comprising natural and man-made lakes, rivers, creeks, lagoons and wetlands all of which support a good variety of fisheries. Thus, artisanal fisheries occupy a very significant position in the Nigerian economy providing employment for over 400,000 people and supplying about 90% of the total local production of about 300,000 metric tons (FDF, 1997). It impacts on the quality of lives of various groups through supplying 58% of per capita animal protein intake and engagement in fishing and allied occupations as primary or secondary source of income (IFAD, 1997).
Fisheries resources represent the foci of the livelihood activities of most coastal communities. About 300,000 indigenous people and migrant fishermen, mostly Ghanaians, depend on fisheries resources as the main source of sustenance, assets and investment capital (Liverman, 1999). Fishing supply 75% of their animal protein intake, and more than 98% of the population of the fishing communities is dependent on fishing and fishery related activities. Over 80% are engaged primarily in fishing as the main source of livelihood while about 95% are engaged directly or indirectly in the fishing industry. Some communities date back to the 18th century when the original settlers first arrived (e.g. Orimedu, Lagos State) (Dosunmu, 2007). Six major livelihood groups that depend largely on fisheries and aquatic resources are small-scale fisher, fish processors, fish mongers / marketers, net fabricators, boat builders and out board engine mechanics. To these livelihood groups, the acquisition of assets, such as shelter, boats, nets, engines, fishing gears, is mainly through fishing, fish processing, marketing and other fish related activities (Caldwell, 1996). Similarly, their financial requirements for investment, food consumption, education, health and other family needs depend on fishery.
According to Murray (2002), the vulnerability of each livelihood is relative to the percentage of dependence of each livelihood on the fisheries resources / activities. It is hinged on the state of the resource / stock exploitation, growth rate, emigration, local knowledge, varieties of technologies in use and policy.
The vulnerability of this livelihood group in the coastal fishing communities is in terms of environmental shock e.g. erosion in the Benin River System destroying nursery grounds of the fisheries resources; accretion on the Lagos East; mud flat in the Mahin coastline, and the resultant drudgery in landing of boat. Population presents a formidable challenge to food security and employment opportunities. In the coastal communities, population densities per habitable area are high as the wetland ecology of the region restricts habitation to the relatively small are of higher elevation (Haugaard, 2003). This therefore translates tohigher pressure on the fisheries resources that are the bedrock of these coastal communities livelihood. Moreover there are issues with resource base. Changes in abundance due to recruitment failure or environmental impact resulting in poor catches and multiple user conflict occasioned by trawler menace, destroying nets due to trawling in non-trawling zone of the coastal waters. Furthermore, there are issues of communal conflict – e.g. Bakasi are in Akwa-Ibom compelling fishermen to abandon fishing and going into motor bike transportation business in the cities and changes in macro-economic policies – removal of subsidy on fishing inputs, non-preferential interest rate on fishery loans (interest rate on loan determined by free market strategy) and difficulty accessing credit facility, high rate of inflation, increased cost ofinputs, resulting in difficulty in input replacement, continuous use of input beyond designed life span, incessant breakdown and irregular fishing trips and low catches and the risk of losing life at sea. All these has called for the need to explore options for improving the livelihoods and resource management in the Nigerian coastal communities.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The major constraints to artisanal fisheries and other fishing-related employment opportunities for the people living in the coastal communities in Nigeria include poor rural infrastructure, particularly accessibility, education, electricity, health, water and sanitation facilities. Indeed, poverty in the fishing coastal communities as in other rural Nigeria may be said to be due to the constraints of lack of basic infrastructure as this inhibits efficiency, reducesthe quality of their products and puts enormous strains on their living conditions. It also makes it too easy for diseases to infest them and upset their fragile income-earning capacity. However, this study is exploring options for improving the livelihoods and resource management in Nigeria coastal communities.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will cover livelihood challenges and ways of improving it in the Nigeria coastal communities with emphasis on effective resource management.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
Caldwell LK International Environmental Policy: From the Twentieth to the Twenty-First Century. Durham Duke University Press; 1996.
Dosunmu S IMO’s Response to Current Environmental Challenges 2007. http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpages/features/enterprise/2007/oct/20/enterprise-20-10-2007-002.htm. Accessed in March 28, 2008.
Haugaard M Reflections on Seven Ways of Creating Power. European Journal of Social Theory 2003; 6 (1): 87-133.
Liverman DM Geography and the Global Environment. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 1999; 89 (1): 107-20.
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